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'Humans in Space'

February 06, 1986

Driving to Los Angeles, I heard about the tragedy of the space shuttle and I cried. I cried as if I knew Christa McAuliffe and the other six astronauts who perished in the explosion. Then I realized I really knew them!

They symbolize the vulnerability of every one of us in any trip we undertake and every venture we embark upon no matter how small or extensive. We take for granted that the trips and travels we embark upon are always a round trip, yet they may turn out to be a one-way ticket to eternity.

As a matter of fact our most awesome and fateful journey is our life on Spaceship Earth, which is indeed a one-way trip to eternity. Of course we all owe nature a death, but not at the age of 36, 40 or 44. Premature death is as painful and bewildering as delayed death. For some mysterious reason our Maker beckons us when he is ready, not when we are . . . .

As Elie Wiesel says in his book, "Souls on Fire," that God summons one with a shout, another with a song and a third with a whisper! On the surface it seems that NASA selected Christa from among more than 11,000 volunteer school teachers; yet the Angel of Death was the final judge and "selector," who took her away from her family and from all of us who were thrilled to see the beautiful and smiling face of this mother of three on our TV screens and in the print.

In every generation there are a precious few who make life worth living for the rest of us. Christa McAuliffe and the six brave astronauts were among this precious group and we salute them in death, just as we saluted them in life.

MIKE KAY

Santa Barbara

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